Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Rupert Sanders
I am not that familiar with the Snow White story - sure I've seen the Disney movie, but that was a very long time ago. And I've been watching the TV show Once Upon a Time, but the story of Snow White gets mixed up with all these other fairy tale characters. I know the general story and how it plays out, but I was excited to see how this version tells the tale. And to be quite honest, the movie, aside from being visually stunning, was really, really good. This is a deadly serious tale - it takes it's cues from Lord of the Rings (in fact, it's pretty much Lord of the Rings except there's actual women in the movie).
I won't rehash the plot here - the movie stays true to the original story and does not deviate too much. Suffice to say it does a good job telling the story in its own way. The beginning introduction where the narrator talks about the evil queen, Ravenna, and how she cleverly deceives the king is really a great set up. And from there on, I found myself really enjoying each and every scene, not only for the amazing designs and feel of each set, but how the story progresses. The movie really de-emphasizes the dwarf characters - they're barely in it and I feel fine with that because I always thought those characters (especially from the Disney version! Have you actually seen that movie lately? Their song is literally two lines long - Hi Ho Hi Ho, It's off to work we go - sung repeatedly ad nauseum.) were pretty much boring and added little to no weight to the story. Here it's sort of the same, but they get their fair share of helping out Snow White and they actually matter in the story.
Speaking of Snow White, the marketing (and title!) would leave you to believe that Snow White is the focal point of this movie, but really, the evil queen Ravenna steals the show. In fact, Theron's performance in this movie is quite fantastic. She's just so evil and they actually give her a backstory as to why she's so evil which I found fitting. In fact, her story is somewhat similar in nature to Snow White's beginnings, but with a much more sinister tone. Had Ravenna been born under different circumstances (or if she responded more kindly to her situation), she might not have turned out so awful.
It's funny that if you look at most of the media and trailers released for this movie - you'll barely see Kristen Stewart talk. And it's kind of true in the movie - she's almost not a character, but a motivation (or MacGuffin for all you bookworms) for everyone else to rally around and defeat the queen. So the movie title really should read Ravenna vs. the Huntsman and Dwarves and Other People Including Snow White. This may seem like I'm taking a dig at the movie, but really I didn't mind this. It made for a quite different take on the tale. Another good thing is that they didn't portray Snow White as just the damsel in distress (oh she's in distress sometimes for sure because duh!). I'd actually have to watch the movie again to really read into the whole gender-roles vibe going on. Snow White isn't completely helpless throughout the movie, and it's actually true that you could argue she saves the Huntsman near the end of the movie.
As for the performances - Theron is top notch - she's the reason to go see this movie besides the awesome visuals. Stewart is serviceable as Snow White (although like I said, they didn't give her much to chew on) and Hemsworth is really good in this movie. I think he plays these roles perfectly - Thor and the Huntsman have similar qualities (guardian and protector, charming and egotistical) in them that I think Hemsworth portrays effectively. And the marketing never mentions the dwarves - but they are chock full of amazing actors that should have gotten more screen time - Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins. At least these guys got to give the Dwarves their due - like I said earlier, the dwarf characters weren't my favorite in the original story, but these actors managed to make the most of their limited screen time. Seriously, these names should have been properly given their due in the marketing, but it seems like Universal was hell bent on gearing this towards a young female audience.
Which is a shame because this movie is more than just a fairy tale. If you're at all into fantasy and action - this movie will do you no wrong. It's a fun adventure and surprisingly refreshing even though the story has been retold a thousand times. You'll go to see this movie for it's visuals and Theron, but you'll stay for the well-told story and its new spin on old characters. Go see this one!